Getting Out of Overwhelm
Last week, I talked about the voices in our heads: where they come from, what they do and why they are useful.In this post, I'm sticking with the voices (they're pretty happy about that) and talking about something we all know and despise:
Oh, overwhelm. You suck. You creep up slowly like some kind of ninja tsunami and, before I know it, bam! I'm stuck like a rabbit in the headlights, surrounded by mixed-up feelings and thoughts that I can't make head or tail of.I've been feeling pretty overwhelmed the last couple of days - my endless task list has become even more endless and there are what feels like a BAJILLION DEADLINES... but actually, there's currently only two (and they're both self-imposed - nuff said). Yes, overwhelm can turn molehills into mountains, puddles into oceans, and make a little ebook I'm working on (details coming up soon!) feel like a 750-page tome in three volumes.Various online dictionaries (those trusted sources of accurate information...) describe overwhelm as 'to engulf', 'to defeat', 'to surge over'. One gives the example: 'The small craft was overwhelmed by the enormous waves'. Eek.But we are not a small craft. We are a strong and sturdy cargo ship, carrying everything we know about ourselves and our lives.
Remember the voices?
There's only one, at most a handful, of voices that feels overwhelmed. But it's by no means all of them.It might feel all-encompassing and, well, overwhelming when it happens, but it's only a part of you that is feeling that way. The reason it feels so strong is because at the moment you're feeling it, that part is the dominant voice. It's crowding out all the other voices who are not overwhelmed and panicking.So instead of thinking 'I am overwhelmed', think 'A part of me is feeling overwhelmed'.The 'feeling' bit is very important, because that's exactly what overwhelm is - a feeling. If we say 'I am overwhelmed', then it becomes this big, scary state of being. It's like saying 'I'm British', 'I'm self-employed' or I'm a Gleek'. It becomes what defines us at that moment in time, something we are, rather than something we're experiencing.But it's not. We are not a small craft, we just feel like one sometimes. The overwhelm is coming from one part of us - albeit a part that is shouting very loudly - and it is not representative of who that part is, it's just something that part is feeling right now. I've been feeling overwhelmed because a part of me feels scared of some of the things I'm doing. It's saying 'Arrrrgh! Stop! Too much!', but once I recognise that part and why it's saying that, the overwhelm is easier to sit with.If we turn overwhelm from something that represents us into a feeling, it becomes a lot more manageable and a lot less, well, overwhelming.How does this fit in with your experience of overwhelm? Tell me in the comments below!